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Tesla Rival Rivian is Being Held Back by a Big Problem

The young electric vehicle maker is trying to convince the world it has a future as doubts persist over its ability to mass-produce vehicles.
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The quarters follow each other and look alike for Rivian  (RIVN) : Does the young electric vehicle manufacturer have a future? 

This crucial question is often asked of any new vehicle manufacturer when they want to move up a gear. In the case of Rivian, of which many experts recognize its innovations, the question remains a sword of Damocles hanging over the head of the company based in Irvine in California since the beginning of the year.

Rivian wants to increase its production volumes to finally enter the big leagues and above all to be taken seriously as a rival of Tesla  (TSLA)  in the long term.

Endless Supply Chain Issues 

But the company faces a problem that is now like an almost impassable mountain: disruptions in the supply chain. Indeed, like many businesses, the covid-19 pandemic has completely disrupted supply chains, resulting in a shortage of chips and soaring raw material prices.

"Supply chain continues to be the limiting factor of our production" the company said on August 11 in a letter to shareholders, detailing its second-quarter earnings. "Throughout the quarter, our cost of materials was impacted by inflationary pressures, which we believe will continue to be an impact for the near future."

In addition, "We've seen unprecedented levels of inflation especially across our raw material, inputs and lithium prices that have gone up north of 115% over since the start of this year, in particular coupled with Covid and other factors that have driven a challenging supply chain and inflationary environment as well as part of that," Chief Financial Officer Claire McDonough later told analysts during the earnings call.

However, Rivian said that it's making "progress" with its suppliers: "We expect to be able to add a second shift for vehicle assembly towards the end of the third quarter."

Rivian's hopes are resting on this additional shift. Rivian has kept its forecast of producing 25,000 vehicles in 2022 unchanged. But as of June 30, Rivian it had only manufactured 6,954 cars. In other words, it must manufacture at least 18,046 vehicles during the second half of the year to meet its goals.

Rivian Truck EV Lead

Can Rivian Overcome Its Problems?

"The second quarter saw a number of challenges in terms of the semiconductor space as well as just overall ramping up the volume within our supply base," Chief Executive Officer RJ Scaringe told analysts. But "we have a lot of confidence that both the suppliers are really leaning in with us but also we see the demonstrated performance to be able to hit the continued ramp and this is what's enabling us to plan for the second shift," Chief Executive Officer RJ Scaringe told analysts.

The problem is that the supply chain woes continue to weigh heavily on Rivian because the automaker has thus lowered its main profitability target. Its annual adjusted loss before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) should come at around $5.45 billion. The company had previously said that it was expecting a full-year EBITDA of negative $4.75 billion.

The few positives announced by Rivian are that the company, which has Amazon   (AMZN)  and financier George Soros as shareholders, ended the second quarter with $15.46 billion in cash in hands. Basically, Rivian may not need to raise additional cash to finance its operations in the short term.

The R1T pickup pre-order book increased from 90,000 units on May 9 to 98,000 units on June 30.

Quarterly revenue came in at $364 million, above the $335.7 million expected by analysts on average. Quarterly net loss tripled to $1.71 billion from $580 million in the second quarter of 2022.

The upstart EV producer's roadmap in the next 18 months is busy: ramping and enhancing the R1T pickup/truck and R1S SUV, as well as its electric delivery van, the EDV. Amazon has ordered 100.000 vans.

Rivian has struggled to manage production rate increases since the start of the year at its Normal, Illinois plant. The group recently announced it would cut its workforce by 6% to reduce costs in the face of investor skepticism. 

The shares are down 62.4% since January. Shares fell nearly an additional 3% after the release of second-quarter results.